I f you’re from a city like the one that I am from, public transportation probably means waiting an hour for a bus that will take you within a mile from your destination if you are lucky. Visiting a city that is connected with by a good public transit network is a refreshing change when you aren’t used to it. I’ve been to cities like New York City, London, Washington, and Paris that all boast wonderful public transportation systems designed to get you throughout the city in a hurry.
Before zipping through the Tube on the Northern line or catching the A train to Downtown New York, you’re going to need a way to board.
In my experience, it has been beneficial to purchase unlimited ride passes in most areas. These usually include buses in reasonable distances in addition to trains. But in some instances, like in Washington D.C., it actually makes more sense to pay as you go.
It is best to estimate how much you think you will be riding public transit to make a decision on purchasing a pass or paying as you go.
Cities like Boston and D.C. use contactless cards while cities like New York use traditional paper cards to access the rails and buses. Athens, Greece uses small slips as tickets.
If you are arriving by airport, there will surely be machines that will allow you to purchase fare with a debit or credit card or with cash in some instances. These machines will also be located in the stations themselves. You can also use these to check your balances in real time.
Don’t be afraid to ask station attendants questions about purchasing fare or using the machines.
New York is considered to be the largest metro system in the world with almost 500 stations. When a train arrives you have literally seconds to decide whether or not you want to board before the doors will close.
It is safe to say that navigating through something like this as a novice can be a little daunting. The important thing here (and perhaps the most obvious) is realizing the basic way a rail system works.
Rails are unidirectional so any particular train is either going in one direction or the other. You just simply have to find the current station that you are at and take whichever train is going in that direction.
Once you’re on the train, pay attention to where the train is stopping as it goes along. If it is stopping at stations that is not in the sequence leading up to the station that you want to go to, you are going the wrong direction.
The beauty is that you can just hop off and switch platforms and catch the next train!
You now have all the basics you need to conquer the mighty rails like a pro. So don’t sit in traffic with an Uber driver named Raul telling you stories about his ex-wife. Happy traveling!